Vermont legislature looking to ‘safeguard’ abortions up to birth

Pro-life activists attend Rally for Life, held by Vermont Right to Life on the 46th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. | Vermont Right to Life

Legislators in Vermont have proposed a bill that would strengthen legalized abortion up until the moment of birth, one of many new state-level pro-choice initiatives.

Vermont is one of eight states that already has no gestational limits on abortion, the others being Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, along with Washington, D.C.

H. 57, which was introduced last month, would codify the existing law, “to safeguard the right to abortion in Vermont by ensuring that right is not denied, restricted, or infringed by a governmental entity.”

“A public entity … shall not, in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information, deny or interfere with an individual’s fundamental rights to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization or to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to obtain an abortion,” stated the bill.

“No State or local law enforcement shall prosecute any individual for inducing, performing, or attempting to induce or perform the individual’s own abortion.”

Groups like Vermont Right to Life are actively campaigning against H. 57, which is scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday evening.

“We are doing everything we can to alert Vermonters,” said the pro-life organization in a statement emailed to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

Vermont RTL told CP that they considered the bill “dangerous” to both “women and their unborn babies,” adding that the “chances of passage are high as there are 91 co-sponsors of the bill.”

Chloé White, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, told CP on Tuesday that her organization was “fully supportive of the legislation.” 

“It simply codifies current practice in Vermont, which is to leave the decision about whether to parent or not between a woman and her family and her doctor,” said White, who believed that “a lot of people recognize the need in this current climate to ensure that the right to make individual decisions about one’s body is secured.”

“The importance of codifying that personal decision-making process into law and ensuring it remains a decision that belongs to the person whose body it affects.”

Last month, New York passed a bill making it legal for doctors and other health care professionals to perform abortions up to birth for any reason.

Known as the Reproductive Health Act, the bill codified federal abortion rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade and removed abortion from the state's criminal code.

“… an abortion May be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient's life or health,” read section 2 of New York’s act.

New York's Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law, prompting the Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, to question the elected official's faith.

“Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core,” wrote Bishop Scharfenberger in an open letter to Cuomo.

“By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.”

President Donald Trump criticized New York's law during his Tuesday State of the Union address, and asked Congress to ban late-term abortions. 

"Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb. Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God," he said. 

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